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Akihisa Hirata Tree-ness House

Tree-ness House, completed in 2017 by Akihisa Hirata Architecture Office, is a residence and contemporary art gallery grafted into a narrow lot in Toshima, Tokyo. Developed through the examination of the symbiotic relationships between trees, mushrooms, and moss, the structure was designed as a porous interface between its enclosed spaces and the surrounding metropolis.

The project is made up of a series of stacked concrete volumes, containing the gallery and private living programming, arranged around a central, circulatory void. The gallery and a related office occupy a majority of the ground level, while residential functions are clustered in the four levels above.

This assemblage is punctuated by openings that allow for visual and physical access to the exterior; a series of prefabricated steel additions, used to frame the openings and for exterior balconies, plantings, and stairs, mediate this access while providing the building with a tangled sense of materiality.

A hybrid of programmatic function, the project creates an inviting space for those interested in Japan’s contemporary art industry while providing respite for its permanent inhabitants. As time progresses, and the vegetation and materiality of the assemblage age, external balconies and glazed openings will continue to allow the inhabitants to register this change—and that of the larger urban environment—from a myriad of intimate perspectives.